Organizational leadership takes place in one of two contexts.
The organization is heading to new heights – it’s a start-up, or an existing organization that’s reached a plateau. It needs a Visionary to take it to new and uncharted territory.
The organization is sinking in the depths; in the shit, as it were. It needs a strong and resolute leader with experience and courage to save it. It needs a Savior.
The expertise required may be different, and the motivation for each may vary, but each role still requires the same fundamental leadership attributes: independence (to judge and make decisions); people skills (to engage, delegate, and motivate); expertise (to know what to do and how to do it); and passion (to care enough to make the effort and stay the course).
Some would argue that there is a third context, the organization that’s just humming along, neither growing, nor under threat. I would counter that if an organization is not growing, it’s stagnating. And if its stagnating, it’s dying. It’s competitors will soon take its position. If there are none, there soon will be. Such an organization better be lead by a Visionary soon, or it will need a Savior soon.
Here’s the thing… it’s occurring to me now, as of course it would, that those two contexts, let’s call them “fighting to survive” and “scaling new heights” are mirrored in our own individual lives. The vicissitudes of life are such that we are either overcoming challenges, emotional and/existential, that is, we’re working to save or preserve some value or values that we already possess, or; we’re working to create for ourselves and those we love some new values. The in-between, the drifting along without significant challenge (time for R&R notwithstanding), is as dangerous for an individual as it is for an organization. Don’t move and you’ll get stiff. And, as my Sifu is fond of saying, “stiffness is death”.
Where is your organization at? And how about you? Struggling to remain a going concern or pursuing exciting new challenges?
Remember, the status-quo is dangerous, because the Universe never stands still. So, neither should you, and neither should the organization(s) you’re a part of.